As we wind down the final days of 2022, we share this photo of the spiral staircase at Asa Waters Mansion in Millbury, MA, captured during the Millbury Chain of Lights earlier this month.
"Happy Holimaze" photo by Bonnie Combs
Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor
December 19, 2022
Happy 8th Birthday to
Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park
On December 19, 2014, President Obama signed the legislation that established the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park, the 402nd park in the national park system.

The same legislation also extended the authorization of the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor and added the Town of Auburn, Massachusetts, and additional portions of Providence, Rhode Island, to the Heritage Corridor.
Please Support the National Heritage Area Act!

Under the current federal legislative model, National Heritage Areas are subject to individual sunset clauses, after which they lose federal funding. For too long now, the lack of a long-term legislative solution has led to a challenging two-year cycle of reauthorizations of individual Heritage Areas. This requires significant, ongoing work and attention from Congressional Committees, Members of Congress, the National Park Service, and National Heritage Area boards and their staff.

The National Heritage Area Act of 2021 (H.R. 1316) would establish a system of National Heritage Areas and confirm their position as an integral part of the National Park Service. The Senate bill extends authorization in perpetuity, while the House bill extends authorization for 15 years. Both allocate standard funding to each NHA in the system. Both will also ensure uniform standards for the way NHAs are funded, designated, managed, and assessed and provide Congress with an enhanced ability to conduct oversight of the program. Both include language codifying the protection of private property rights within NHAs.

Most significantly, this legislation removes the never-ending cycle of funding uncertainty, which regularly takes time and energy away from the important work NHAs do in communities across the country.

Get involved! Let your Senators and Members of Congress know how important National Heritage Areas are and how much this act is needed. Please urge them to get this done this year, and include it in any omnibus package that may come. Click here for contact info.
Blackstone Valley's Historical Societies and Museums Gather for Networking
We Had a Full House!

On December 6th, 40+ representatives from Blackstone Valley's historical societies and museums gathered at our office for networking, along with representatives from Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park and Senator Fattman's office*.

The meeting was planned to share resources and learn from each other's successes and challenges. The Museum of Work & Culture offered to host the next meeting. In addition to networking, the Corridor will offer workshops to provide specific training that they are looking for, including marketing, websites, and collections and archives management.

(*Senator Reed's office could not attend this first meeting).
Volunteer News

Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor (BHC) hosted a volunteer recognition celebration for its Volunteers-In-Parks program on December 15, 2022, where it named the first recipient of its Suzanne Buchanan Volunteer of the Year Award. This prestigious award was created to honor the legacy of BHC’s former volunteer program coordinator, who served in that role for a combined total of 23 years with the National Park Service and the nonprofit BHC.

Abigail Epplett of Uxbridge, MA, earned the distinction of receiving the inaugural Suzanne Buchanan Volunteer of the Year Award through her varied and consistent volunteer efforts with BHC and Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park. Read more.
Volunteer Partner of the Year Awards
Waters Farm
Preservation, Inc.
East Providence Historical Society
North Smithfield
Heritage Association
Three Volunteers-In-Parks partners received Partner of the Year awards for the fiscal year 2022.

East Providence Historical Society is a partner historical society doing wonderfully innovative volunteer programs and engaging its community. From Wine and Weeding to a whole team of volunteers working on their collections, giving tours, gardening, and leading hikes, we are always excited to see what they are doing.  

North Smithfield Heritage Association is a new partner as of February. They offer an incredible range of programs and opportunities, from their once-a-month guided hikes exploring a different property in town to their archives and geological services to their Cemetery Conservation program that brought the 50 state tour of Cemetery Conservation workshop tour to the valley. 

Waters Farm Preservation, Inc. in Sutton contributed an incredible 14,000+ volunteer hours in the fiscal year 2022. Waters Farm has engaged volunteers through its annual Farm Days event and the construction of its new barn. In addition, their volunteers do a fantastic job maintaining their 120 acres.
13 Volunteers Earn America the Beautiful Passes
Congrats to the following Volunteers-In-Parks volunteers who earned an America the Beautiful pass for volunteering 250 hours:
  • Norma Bedrosian
  • Sue Ciaramicoli
  • Bonnie Combs
  • Bill Ela
  • Ken Ethier
  • Pam Gurney Farnham
  • Keith Hainley
  • John Marsland
  • Albert Menard
  • Betty Mencucci
  • Alan Salemi
  • Paul Schaefer
  • Edward Walker
Volunteers in the News!
Ross Weaver leads intrepid band of Sutton cemetery...

Two nights before Halloween, Ross Weaver, Brian Stevenson, John Belculfine, Dave Pizzi and others involved with restoration work done in the Sutton Center Cemetery behind the Gen. Rufus Putnam Hall on Uxbridge St. could be found at the site,...

Read more
Explore Blackstone Valley's Mills Through Photography and Video
Blackstone Valley Mill Explorations
Photography by James Hunt and David Lawlor

Tour Blackstone Valley's Mills Through Photography and Video
Spaulding R. Aldrich Heritage Gallery & Lexi Singh Performance Center
Alternatives' Whitin Mill, 50-60 Douglas Road, Whitinsville, MA

James Hunt explores the interdependent and often conflicted relationship between human activity and the natural environment. He is currently engaged in a long-term, multi-media exploration of the Industrial Revolution in the Blackstone Valley. The Draper Factory Demolition is the focus of his work in this exhibit.

David Lawlor uses long exposure and drone photography in his urban exploration of old mill buildings to preserve their historical significance and capture their decaying beauty. He travels throughout the Blackstone Valley and beyond to explore and document these abandoned, destroyed, and repurposed structures. Preserving these mills through photography and video is his life’s mission.

This exhibit ends on December 30. Learn more at:
Winter Wonderland and the Festival of Illumination at Southwick's Zoo
Through December 31
Winter Wonderland and the Festival of Illumination have come together at Southwick's Zoo, creating an extraordinary and memorable holiday experience for guests of all ages!

Be immersed in the breathtaking world of over a million dazzling holiday lights and enchanting festival lanterns, showcasing fairytales, legends, and myths through the incredible handcrafted displays. Take a train ride through the Magical Holiday Forest, where you may spot a fallow deer or the Grinch himself! Enjoy live entertainment, including acrobat shows at the Cirque de Lumination tent. Visit Artisans Lane and warm up by the firepits while enjoying s’mores, hot toddies, and more from our special menu at the Kringle Cafe and Bakery. Visit with Santa through December 24th. The Festival of Illumination continues through December 31.

For more info and tickets, visit
First Day Hikes with MassDCR
Celebrate the New Year with two hikes in the Blackstone River Valley!

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation is hosting the following First Day Hikes in the Massachusetts portion of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor:

Sunday, January 1st

Blackstone River & Canal Heritage State Park
287 Oak Street, Uxbridge, MA
10:00 a.m.
Meet at the Visitor Center. Registration begins at 9:00 a.m. 1.5-mile hike. Hot chocolate in the visitor center after the hike co-sponsored by the Blackstone Heritage Corridor.

Purgatory Chasm State Reservation
198 Purgatory Road, Sutton, MA
2:00 p.m.
Meet at the Visitor Center. Registration begins at 1:00 p.m. 1-1.5 mile hike Hot chocolate served after the hike in the visitor center.

See the flyer for additional hikes in Massachusetts.
Hike Gummere Woods in Grafton with Phil
Winter Hike at Gummere Woods
Saturday, January 7
10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. 
5 Wheeler Rd, 
North Grafton, MA 01536

BHC Trail Ambassador Volunteer Phil Johansen will lead a winter hike at Gummere Woods and Marsters Preserve in Grafton. Join us as we explore these Grafton Land Trust trails. This recreational hike will be a 2.5-mile loop on an easy trail. We will be meeting at the parking area at 5 Wheeler Rd, North Grafton. Additional parking is available at Ekblaw Landing, 111 Worcester St., North Grafton. 

Please contact for cancellation information due to weather. 
Hike With NSHA
The North Smithfield Heritage Association (NSHA) offers its next Heritage Walk at 9:30 am on Saturday, January 14, to view historic sites in Primrose and Grange Rd

Attendees will learn about local geography, early settlers, their houses, roads, mills, and road network.  They will visit building ruins, the Malavery House; Durrans Farm, Primrose Grange; Blackmar-Wing Farm ruins, as well as some of the oldest cemeteries in town. Meet at North Smithfield High School tennis courts on Grange Road.

The NSHA offers the Walks as a means to promote the town’s amazing multi-faced heritage.  
Admission is free. 
To learn more, visit the North Smithfield Heritage Association Facebook Page or contact them via email at
Get Your Events on Our Calendar!
What's Going On?
Share your events with us by listing them on the Blackstone Heritage Corridor's events page.

Click on the blue tab that says Submit Community Events!

Need help? Call us at 508-234-4242 or email
The Season of Giving Is Upon Us!
Shop Online and Support the Corridor

Did you know that if you shop on Amazon that you can support the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor with your purchases? By switching your browser to, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection, and convenient shopping experience as, with the added benefit that AmazonSmile will donate 0.5% of your eligible purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. 

You can use this unique link provided by AmazonSmile to get started and have your percentage donated to BHC:
End-of-Year Giving

Did you know that the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization? We hope you'll consider a tax-deductible donation to our organization in your end-of-year giving.

Four decades ago, Congress recognized the national significance of our history, culture, and natural resources by creating the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. We are entrusted with preserving and promoting this national legacy.

Your generous contribution will go far in supporting the continued sustainability of BHC. As with most non-profits, BHC has been challenged to remain nimble and relevant. Through the resourcefulness of our staff, volunteers, and donors like yourself, we will be able to:

  • Continue to provide virtual public programming and demonstrations with topics ranging from the history of the Naming of the Blackstone, virtual field trips, and our ever-popular accessibility bike rides and kayak paddles;
  • Develop new outdoor interpretive content focusing on the historical environmental impact of industrialization on the River and our Valley;
  • Maintain and advocate for our bike paths and natural spaces to be safe and accessible outdoor venues for audiences of all ages and abilities; and, 
  • Create new opportunities for families and all our visitors to experience and explore the beauty, history, and environment of the Blackstone River Valley.
Checks may be mailed to Blackstone Heritage Corridor, 670 Linwood Avenue, Whitinsville, MA 01588.

Thank you for your support!
Another generous way to donate: volunteer your time!
People support non-profit organizations in a number of ways, including financially, by donating goods and services, and also by volunteering.

While the community and we benefit greatly from the volunteer outcome, it also has a dollar value that is considered an in-kind donation. The current value of a volunteer (national average) is $29.95 per hour. When volunteers report and log their hours, we are able to use them as an in-kind match when applying for grants.

Want to learn more about the Blackstone River Valley Volunteers-In-Parks program? Reach out to Molly Cardoza, Director of Volunteer & Community Engagement, at, or call 508-234-4242.
News From Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park
In December, we look for the light. Knowing that the shortest and darkest days of the year are coming, we gather for warmth, slow down, and make time for reflection. Often, it is a spirit of celebration that carries us through the solstice. In the weeks to come, many of us will banish the darkness of winter by gathering with friends and family. Some will string bright lights or burn candles in commemoration. Others may sing, dance, and pass gifts in appreciation. 
At Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park, we acknowledge that these are days of new beginnings. In December 1790, Samuel Slater’s first mill operation began in the Blackstone Valley. More than two centuries later, this park was established on December 19, 2014. 
On behalf of park staff, we send our warmest and best wishes for health and happy holidays. 

Photo by Mary Silva.
New Lifetime Pass!

There is a new lifetime pass for military veterans and Gold Star families. These passes will be available at Roger Williams National Memorial, Providence, RI.

Other free passes, including the Access Pass, are already available onsite. 

Learn more here:
Self-Guided Tours on the NPS Mobile App
Do you plan on visiting Slater Mill or Slatersville? If so, check out Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park's new self-guided tours.

These audio tours are available on the NPS Mobile App. The Mobile App can be downloaded for Apple or Google phones. Once on the app, choose Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park, then select self-guided tours.

More self-guided tours will soon be available for the Blackstone River State Park and Ashton, Whitinsville, and Hopedale.

Do you enjoy learning about the history of the Blackstone River Valley? Subscribe to the park's YouTube page to see recordings of past programs, episodes of Along the Blackstone, and more. 

"Explore, Discover, Protect, and GO!"

The Junior Ranger motto is recited by children around the country, each taking an oath of their own to protect parks, continue to learn about parks, and share their own ranger story with friends and family. Here in the Blackstone River Valley, Junior Rangers are called GearHeads. What's a GearHead, you might ask?

GearHead (n.): a kid, powered by the gears in their brain, who explores nature, discovers history, protects the environment, and goes on adventures throughout the Blackstone River Valley.

Click through the GearHeads website and claim your Junior Ranger status today! Submit a completed activity, and we'll send you a Junior Ranger badge!
Navigate & Explore the Blackstone River Valley
With Our Interactive Map!
Blackstone Heritage Corridor, working with community partners, provides strong leadership to preserve, promote, and celebrate the Valley’s historic, natural and recreational resources for current and future generations.

670 Linwood Avenue, Whitinsville, MA 01588
(508) 234-4242